Saturday, March 14, 2009

Naked or nude

© Kent Monkman "Si je t'aime prends garde a toi," 2007 (top)

© Rebecca Belmore "Extreme," 2003 (bottom)

I attended a day-long seminar with First Nations Canadian artist Kent Monkman and Dr. Gerald McMaster, a First Nations curator / artist, and currently curator of Canadian Art at the Art Gallery of Ontario. The topic was the male Indian body in contemporary art. Monkman undoes cliches about landscape and indigenous peoples in 18th and 19th century American and European paintings, adding an exquisite homoerotic twist to his newly-minted tales of love and lust in the forest.

Of course the meaning of the female Indian body in contemporary art is the companion piece to the discussion, and Anishinabe / Canadian artist Rebecca Belmore's installations and performances explore issues of identity, borders and gender. Like many other indigenous artists working around the globe, Belmore and Monkman investigate urgent, relevant social issues while making gorgeous objects.

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